Binh Thuy communal house in Can Tho City, built in 1844, has left a special cultural legacy in the spiritual lives of southern Vietnamese.
Binh Thuy communal house or Long Tuyen temple was originally constructed from wood and leaves. With two restorations, the latest in 1909, it is one of the most aged communal houses in Vietnam's southern region. In 1989, Binh Thuy was recognized as a National Historical and Cultural Heritage site by the culture ministry.
Binh Thuy covers an area of more than 4,000 square meters in Binh Thuy Ward, Binh Thuy District. This house is located on prime land in line with the ancient Feng Shui concept: the great land between two rivers, facing Binh Thuy River to the east, Hau River to the north, Le Hong Phong Street to the south, and a residential square to the west.
Built in the early 20th century, design was influenced by many popular architectural styles of the time. The front door of the house has an arch shape with patterns on its pillars stimulating a French aesthetic.
Meanwhile, the roof is more similar to the architecture of Chinese pagodas or temples.
The interior of the communal house is decorated with details that bring out its Vietnamese identity, including carvings, lacquered boards with scripts, and couplets. Every pair of pillars displays a couplet. The two pillars at the center are sophisticatedly carved with additional decorative patterns.
The roof is designed in the ‘Tu Hai’ (Four Oceans) style often found in the old architecture of the southern region.
The house lies on high ground. The front and back houses have six rows of pillars, five shrine rooms and two internal corridors.
The shrines are for worshiping deities including Thanh Hoang (a deity enshrined in each village's communal temple) and many historical heroes like Tran Hung Dao, Phan Boi Chau, Bui Huu Nghia, Nguyen Trung Truc, and Dinh Cong Chanh.
There are four more small external shrines for the Agriculture, Tiger, Forest and Irrigation deities.
Students in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho often visit the communal house to learn about the city's culture, history, and beliefs. During lunar April 12-15, the Ky Yen Binh Thuy festival typically attracts many visitors from all over the country. The festival was honored as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018.